Svitolina, Upset on Opening Day, Underwhelms Again at Wimbledon

On Monday, we witnessed another major disappointment for Elina Svitolina, who crashed out of Wimbledon in the opening round against Tatjana Maria (7-6 4-6 6-1). The Ukrainian star struggled to maintain control of the game whenever her first serves weren’t falling in, winning a paltry 36% of second serve points.

Tatjana Maria, a tricky first round foe

Maria kept bulldozing the net with slice approach shots, even off the forehand side. According to Tennis Abstract’s Match Charting Project Data, she hits her forehand slice 9.1 percent of the time, compared to the 2.6 percent tour average. The German’s atypical style is nightmarish for her opponents on grass, where the bounces are lower. The 30-year-old captured her first career tour-level trophy over the last fortnight in Mallorca, so she would have been a tough out against anyone.

Regardless of everything stated on the previous paragraph, Svitolina was by no means the underdog in the matchup. While the Odessa native couldn’t buy a grass court win during the early stages of her pro career, she had been coming along nicely. In 2017, she reached the round of 16 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, overcoming arguably a tougher opening test in Ashleigh Barty. Recent victories in Birmingham over Donna Vekic and Alize Cornet were encouraging signs as well. But, once again, Svitolina failed to deliver under the bright lights.

Major success, uncharted territory for Svitolina

Deep into her age-24 campaign, the Ukrainian has zero Grand Slam semifinal appearances, three fewer than her generational peer Eugenie Bouchard had in 2014 alone. Yes, you read that correctly.

Even though she has established herself as one of the faces of the WTA with recurrent excellent results, Svitolina desperately needs a Grand Slam breakthrough to fend off the critics. It won’t happen at 2018 Wimbledon, six years removed from a Girls’ Singles final (lost to…Bouchard!)

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